Confession time. I’ve developed an unhealthy relationship with my physical books. While on one hand they are among my most prized and beloved possessions, I have of late (okay, a couple of years) have avoided their company. I had every intention of spending time with them. Each and everyone one was promised a quiet weekend snuggled up in my arms having come to believe it was my one and only. But you know what they say. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”.
I never meant to cheat on my books. I promised myself a long time ago that I would never be that kind of reader. I scorned those who preferred those younger, flirtatious (you know, you can do more than just read me) e-readers . I was old school and fully committed to the printed word!
I even went so far as to step into online debates over the morality of choosing these young techno tarts over older paper and ink. What, give up what we have just because something new and handsome catches our eye? Never!
But like most modern readers, I too succumbed to temptation.
At first it was just a harmless flirt, downloading one or two cookbooks to my iPad (for culinary purposes of course), but then I found myself, as most cheaters to, downloading books as companions for my out-of-town travels. And then, well it just got out of hand! Sure, sure I could take the low road and blame my failing eyesight ,and the fact that reading glasses no longer are viable aids for me. It’s just so much easier to read an e-book than a print. Besides they don’t sit there and glare at you when you are too busy to spend time with them. But wow are they high maintenance and needy! Always asking for an update or begging to be plugged in. My advise, stay away from Kindle Fires. My latest techno side insists he needs plugging in every 6 hours! Who has time for that? I have other things to do.
It was then that I seriously thought about giving up reading all together.
A few months ago I visited my optometrist because I noticed a change in my vision. She informed me that because my two eyes have drastic sight differences that any large change in my prescription would lead to double vision. She did what she could, but also suggested a visit to an ophthalmologist to talk about replacing my left eye lens. While the thought of having having a ‘new” eye is appealing and scary at the same time, I have to consider the cost. American health insurers do not take eyesight to be necessary to one’s overall well-being. Come to think about it ,this may explain the poor driving skills of American motorists. So, now I have to come up with the funds to improve my sight.
Meanwhile I ditched my computer glasses, and now wear my regular glasses. It was while at work typing away that I hit upon an idea. What if I could now read a book using my regular glasses? I can’t see far way anymore. Why not semi-up close?
I reached over and grabbed the nearest book, (“A Shakespeare Insult Generator”, highly recommended for those who have to communicate with idiots via e-mail). Lo and behold, I could read it! It was amazing! I wanted to retest my hypothesis, so that evening after dinner I picked up a paperback copy of “The Great Influenza. The Epic story of the deadliest plague in History “(light reading in the age of Trump), and fell in love with the printed word all over again! I can’t say I can sit and read for long periods of time like I did when I was younger (who can?) but I enjoyed the couple of hours I spent holding a book before falling asleep.
Feeling a little under the weather I stayed home from work yesterday. It was the perfect day to do a little around the house without getting into a big organizing project. I decided to purge some books off my over-flowing bookcases . I’m at a stage in my life in which I want more space and less clutter. I’ve done this once before, but this time, I decided to be brutal and let go of the ones that I have “just because”. Just because I’ve had it so long, just because it was the first big tome that I read, just because, well, hell I don’t know why I’m keeping it! I got rid of the ones that I read and will never read again, never reference, and those in which I now have have zero interest in. It happens, we all outgrow a topic or genre. It was a lot easier than I thought, though I still have a lot of books I won’t get rid of. The Middle Ages, myths, and all things Shakespeare and I are firmly committed.
The last bookcase I decided to tackle was the dreaded “TBR” collection. All readers are familiar with this collection. It contains all of your promises and good intentions. Mine has been patiently waiting for some one-on-one attention for quiet a while now. I took a deep breath and sat myself down in front of it. I had no idea how this was going to go. At least one of the books has been waiting to be read for almost 30 years. Two, are recent Christmas gifts.
I gently took them out of the case, one by one. Gingerly turning each over, studying its back cover and inside jacket for any hint of a connection. After all, it had been so long, I wondered if there would still be an attraction?
It was while doing this, that I hit upon a personal reading challenge. All those whose lure I could not resist went in one pile, all the others, in a box. Surprisingly, more were in the former pile than the latter. Those that remand were dusted off and categorized by subject. These will be my reads for 2019 and a little beyond as there are 51. This will be the year(ish) I go thru my To be read someday pile.
You see, something wonderful happened as I went thru this particular bookcase. I got excited, I mean really excited about reading these books, just like I did when I was young. Now, I am aware that not all will be to my satisfaction. There may be a few that just don’t do it for me once we get started. But that’s okay. My second rule to this challenge is to be honest and just let the relationship go. I either read the book or give it to a charity shop in order that someone else may have a chance at it. It is that simple, I either read it or leave it.
In order to keep me on track I will blog about each book after I completed it. Some will take me longer than others, so don’t expect a weekly update, (not that we have ever counted on Sari do do a weekly update) but just know that each will get some type of post. I am listing them here. Not in reading order, but in general subject order.
Now, to go tell that damn Kindle what’s going on. He’s plugged in around here somewhere.
Who’s afraid of classical music?
Sea monsters on medieval and Renaissance maps.
The science of Discworld 4, Judgment Day (This will be the hardest, as it is one of the last books Pratchett wrote. I’ve held off because after I finish, there will be no more to read)
The taste of conquest
The life and Times of Chaucer
Medieval ghost stories
The civilization of the middle ages. ( I thought I read this long ago, but yet it is on the shelf)
A brief history of the Anglo-Saxons. The beginning of the English nation.
Britain in the middle ages
Social history of Britain 16th century England
God’s Secretaries ;the making of the king James Bible
The distant mirror ( I keep starting this one)
The great calamity the Irish famine 1845 to 1852 (This has been on my shelf for almost 30 years, so it is the first of the reads)
The passion of the western mind understanding the ideas that have shaped our views (This is a text book from my Master’s class. I enjoyed our use of it so I am going to read the entire book)
A history of Western philosophy (Another that I have started only to be distracted)
The abacus and the cross. The story of the pope who brought the light of science to the dark ages
The search for the Buddha. The man who discovered Indians lost religion
The man who love China. The fantastic story of the eccentric scientist who unlocked the mysteries of the middle kingdom
Made in America
The adventure of English
The Lexicographer’s Dilemma
Holy shit!a brief history of swearing
The mother tongue; English and how it got that way
Or magnificent bastard tongue .The untold story of English.
The old man and the sea
In the hands of Dante
The whole shebang.A state of the universe report
Falling upwards .How we took to the air
The earth moved. On the remarkable achievements of earthworms
Packing for Mars
Descartes bones. A skeletal history of the conflict between faith and reason
The invention of air. A story of science faith revolution and the birth of America
How we got to now. Six innovations that made the modern world
Endless universe. Beyond the big bang
The ascent of man
Cosmos (I had this mixed up with Contact. I may switch this out for the other).
From eternity to here. The quest for the ultimate theory of time
Pliny the Elder natural history a selection
The dragons in Eden. Speculations on the evolution of human intelligence
Proust and the squid. The story and science of the reading brain